HOUSTON – BakerRipley announced that it will close its long-time southwest Houston dementia day center in late October due to funding issues.
The BakerRipley Dementia Day Center, formerly known as Sheltering Arms Senior Services, was established in 1987 as the first dementia-specific adult day center in Houston.
On its website, the non-profit touts the center as the only one “in the Greater Houston area accepting individuals from early to moderate-late dementia”.
David Haines II, BakerRipley’s chief strategy and innovation officer said the closure is the result of a 20% decrease in funding in the last two to three years.
The dementia day center costs $1 million per year to operate Haines said.
“We always have to make these very difficult choices on how we use the funding that we get and in this case, there was a strategic pivot. It was just a prioritization for us and inability for us to raise necessary dollars to make it sustainable,” Haines told KPRC 2.
Haines said the decision was not made lightly.
“This decision by BakerRipley is one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make as an agency. We’re heartbroken. We understand there are a lot of people hurting about this decision,” he said.
The United Way of Greater Houston provides funds to BakerRipley for its senior services like the dementia day center.
In a statement to KPRC 2, Margaret Oser, vice president, mission and strategy, United Way of Greater Houston wrote: “The United Way funding to BakerRipley for senior services is not ending. United Way is continuing to provide funds to BakerRipley for senior services and, as a trusted agency partner, we rely on BakerRipley to decide how the funds are used.”
Families with loved ones who attend the center told KPRC 2 they were devastated by the news.
Alberto Tudela, who is the primary caregiver for his wife Sonia, called the service “Godsent.”
“They provide a magnificent service, she enjoys it and has a good time and of course that gives me a break,” he said.
The Tudelas learned of the closure in May when BakerRipley called them in for a meeting.
“I kept asking how can this happen, I couldn’t understand,” said Sonia and Alberto’s daughter, Marina.
The Tudelas are raising awareness of the impending shutdown, hoping for a private sector donation or for another non-profit to take up the program.
“Something has to be done, there’s no other options,” Alberto Tudela said.
BakerRipley says it will provide information to help transition families over the next several months.